Everyone has a podcast these days. And that group of everyone now includes Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill.
In the debut episode of Hill’s new podcast, he opens up about his departure from the Chiefs. Adding to the conversation was agent Drew Rosenhaus, the first guest on It Needed To Be Said.
Regardless of whether all of it actually needed to be said, plenty was said about the circumstances that led to Hill’s departure from Kansas City.
It had been believed that Hill’s exit flowed simply from the fact that the Chiefs made a business decision to both accept trade compensation (the flip side of “eff them picks”) and to avoid having to pay Hill a market value contract. Nothing personal, only business. Some of the comments made in the podcast make it sound like the business was more than dollars and cents and strategic decisions about managing the cap, now and in the future — and that more than a little of it became personal.
The problems, from Hill’s perspective, arose during the 2021 season. Hill started regularly texting Rosenhaus about Hill’s frustrations, beginning after Hill went from having 11 catches for 197 yards in the season-opening win over the Browns to getting only three catches for 14 yards in a 36-35 loss to the Ravens, on just four targets.
Consider this from Rosenhaus: “There was a lot of times during the year that we felt that Tyreek was underutilized and wasn’t fully appreciated, and that they really weren’t taking full advantage of all of his ability and talent. But Tyreek’s is a trooper. He never made a peep about it. He was extremely professional.”
“Never went to the media,” Hill said.
Rosenhaus said, on many occasions, he and Hill would communicate about Hill’s lack of opportunities to do more to help the Chiefs win. And that they believed there “wasn’t the same commitment” to Hill as in past years.
“If teams are gonna give us favorable one-on-one matches against their best corner, I don’t see why teams don’t utilize their best receiver,” Hill said. “And that’s where probably like me and the Chiefs fell apart right there. When I’m like, yo, I don’t mean to talk or be a diva in some situation but can I see the pill some time, please? Just give me the ball, please.”
Hill’s co-host (and lawyer) Julius Collins suggested that perhaps the team tried to suppress Hill’s stats in the 2021 season in order to keep his value in check. Rosenhaus didn’t take the bait on that point, steering the conversation in another direction.
Even with the frustrations, Hill said he wanted to stay in Kansas City. According to Rosenhaus, the turning point happened when the Raiders traded for, and gave a huge contract to, former Packers receiver Davante Adams. Rosenhaus regarded Hill as a younger and better player than Adams. Rosenhaus decided at that point to “put pressure on the Chiefs” to do an Adams-style deal. If the Chiefs wouldn’t do it, the question then became whether player and team were still a fit.
So Rosenhaus outlined the Adams contract for Chiefs G.M. Brett Veach. Rosenhaus said it was a no-brainer to do the same deal for Hill.
“If they didn’t want to do that type of deal, then we would get them a blockbuster trade,” Rosenhaus said. “I flat out told them that I felt like I could talk to teams around the league and bring a bunch of — bring great compensation. And I think the Chiefs initially wanted to challenge us and see what we could get from other teams contractually and what we could also get compensation-wise.”
Hill interjected at that point, saying that he spoke to quarterback Patrick Mahomes and coach Andy Reid about the situation. Hill said he told Reid that he didn’t need to be the highest-paid receiver in football, that $25 million or $26 million per year would have been enough.
“I tried my best,” Hill said. “I talked to the big man, Andy Reid. I talked to the quarterback. I’m like, ‘Look, can we make something happen? Can we make something happen? Can the guaranteed money make sense to me? Can it make sense to my family, please?”
As trade talks heated up with the Jets and Dolphins, Reid asked Hill if he still wanted to be in Kansas City. Hill said yes. But, according to Rosenhaus, the compensation was still millions of dollars short of the mark.
Hill seemed to be particularly miffed by the fact that the Chiefs valued him enough to seek five draft picks as compensation, but not enough to pay him what the Raiders paid Davante Adams.
“It’s backwards, right?” Hill said.
At one point, Hill vented about an issue unrelated to his contract or opportunities on the field. He said the Chiefs didn’t want him to miss practice before the start of the 2021 season so that he could see his grandfather, who was having surgery for prostate cancer.
“They didn’t even want me to leave to go see my granddad,” Hill said. “And he was having surgery. Prostate surgery. I’m like, ‘Yo, like, this is like ridiculous.’ You know? And now like I’m with the Dolphins, I say, ‘Coach, I’m gone.’ He’s like, ‘All right. Cool.'”
Rosenhaus also explained that, in Kansas City, Mahomes is the face of the franchise. In Miami, where the Dolphins are building around Hill, he’ll have greater notoriety.
“I don’t care about notoriety though,” Hill said. “I don’t care about none of that. . . . The only thing I care about is respect within the building. Notoriety outside the building, I don’t care about none of that, man. Because none of that ain’t gonna win us games on Sunday. . . . This is what I want inside the building. I want the head coach to know that on Sundays, that defenses fear Tyreek Hill. That’s what I want the head coach to know. And the head coach do know that, though. He know that without the Cheetah on the field, he know that, ‘Hey, Pat you’re gonna have a long day today.'”
It makes for a fascinating wrinkle as the 2022 season approaches. Will Mahomes have 17 long days without Hill? Will Hill get the kind of opportunities he didn’t get last year in Kansas City? Given what the Dolphins are paying him, it’s safe to say they’ll be doing everything they can to get the ball in his hands.
Opposing defenses surely will be aware of that. The question is whether that knowledge will make a difference when it comes to trying to keep up with one of the most dangerous weapons in football.